Gigs and Recordings

Lush Life

What is there to say other than this is one of the heaviest tunes in the jazz repertoire. The closest thing (I think) we have to an original recording is one of Billy Strayhorn singing and playing it trio in a live setting. That performance leaves some questions as to what the melody really is in some places, however the lead sheets I’ve seen are all unanimous on melody and harmony. Notice Coltrane is the one who takes liberties with the melody and harmony on his instrumental recording, going back to E Maj instead of F Maj in bar 8. (These are the sort of statements that start dumb arguments among musicians. Check it out first before you flame me.)

Anyway, here I am playing an embellished solo version. As always, the task in the solo setting is to make it not boring, not unrecognizable while still having it be meaningful to me as an emotional expression.

Oh. Forgot to tell you. The recordings I’ve posted haven’t had any effects; reverb, room sound etc., which is a little like going out in public without your makeup on. I haven’t really trusted me or my video editing software, but here is the first try at some of that.

P.S. Here are some other noteworthy versions, less known than the Coltrane and Hartman versions:

Harrry James (big band)

Ella and Oscar Peterson

Joshua Redman (more contemporary)

Joe Henderson (solo, unaccompanied)

World Saxophone Quartet (fairly conventional harmonization of the melody)

Archie Shepp (starts off with very traditional male vocal then Archie’s solo goes into new territory)

Clifford Jordan (as a walking ballad then waltz with great piano solo by Cedar Walton)

Frank Rosolino (bone quartet no improvising but great orchestration)

4 thoughts on “Lush Life

  1. Very nice version. I never tire of that song. I’ve always been partial to the Coltrane/Johnny Hartman version. The light reverb on your recording sounds fine, at least it does on my laptop.

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